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The day AARP lost me forever


The Globe’s Robert Weisman has another front-page story today in his pitch-perfect coverage of baby boomers and aging, a beat lovingly dubbed “The Fourth Quarter” when it was launched a few years ago. This time Rob looks at the resistance among many in their 50s, 60s, and 70s to joining senior organizations.

“We think we can be immortal and still be rock ’n’ rolling,” said Jane O’Connor, 66, a business coach in the Berkshires who specializes in the over-55 market and cites the Bob Dylan ballad “Forever Young” as a motto for her generation. “It’s all about the next adventure.”


Yes, growing up along with rock ‘n’ roll is a big reason why I think boomers are so reluctant to see themselves as senior citizens. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones, well into their 70s, are still touring, as are The Who’s Pete Townshend and Roger Daltry. Denial is an obstacle that anyone trying to market products and services to seniors must overcome.

I am from the tail end of the boomer generation, and I clearly remember when AARP, the warm, smiling face of the trillion-dollar senior-industrial complex, made a marketing miscalculation that soured me on the group for good.

It was about 12 years ago (I was going on 46), and the group formerly known as the American Association of Retired Persons began a TV advertising campaign using one of my favorite songs, “Everybody’s Happy Nowadays” by the Buzzcocks. I was floored: AARP now had me in their sights! Too soon, way too soon, guys. Ever since, when the AARP come-on letters arrive in the mail -- who still uses mail? -- they go straight into the recycling bin.

I don’t envy anyone whose job it is to remind us that the days of pogo dancing are long gone and it’s time for water aerobics.


You can reach me at larry.edelman@globe.com and follow me on Twitter @GlobeNewsEd. Sign up for my Talking Points AM newsletter here.